I have been leading a group of MPs nationally to reverse unrealistic and damaging housing targets.
This week we won an important victory in the battle to stop unwanted greenfield housing development when the Secretary of State for Housing, Robert Jenrick, said that the proposed controversial algorithm that dictated the scale and location of housebuilding has now been scrapped.
Under the proposals, over 1,000 new homes would have been built on the Island each year. I argued this level of housing would damage the local environment and would not address the local housing needs.
These houses would not have been for Islanders. We do not have the infrastructure for them, and they would damage both our quality of life and our economy.
I’m grateful to Ministers for listening to members of the public, Councillors and MPs and I thank Parish and Town councillors and individual Islanders who wrote to the Secretary of State or took part in the consultation process. The Government listened to our concerns and has acted on them.
I will be liaising with the IW Council to seek new designations that strike a balance between regeneration and preserving the Island’s environment. While the controversial 10,000 home target has been dropped, more action is needed to ensure new houses are built in a sustainable way.
While this is a very welcome announcement, the target to which we now revert is still too high. We need to stop speculative, greenfield sprawl building on the Island. We need to build well-designed, high-quality housing, on brownfield sites in existing communities, in appropriate numbers, for Islanders.
Whilst this is an important initial victory, I will be working with others to make changes to any new proposed laws to give the Island more flexibility and to allow us to overwhelmingly focus on urban regeneration.
I always say that I can’t promise to win every battle but I will fight every battle on behalf of the Island. This is a good result, but there is more to be done next year.
We must also look at new protection for our countryside and landscape, whether by extending the AONB or by creating a new Island Park designation. I will be talking to the Council about this in the coming months to see if we can agree a joint position. I hope we can